Israel’s immigration minister urged French Jews to move to Israel Friday, hours after an Islamist attack on a gas factory near Lyon where the severed head of a local businessman was pinned to the gates.
“I call on the Jews of France – come home! Anti-Semitism is rising, terror is increasing,” said Immigration and Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.
“We are prepared to receive with open arms the Jews of France,” Elkin wrote in a post on Facebook.
“This is a national mission of the highest priority,” he added.
Netanyahu said the numerous terror attacks witnessed Friday in France and the Mideast demonstrated that the world was locked in a struggle against “dark forces.”
“The brutal murders in France, Tunisia and Kuwait again underscore that the enlightened world is struggling against dark forces. The fight against the murderous terrorism of extremist Islam requires unity, the beginning of which is the unequivocal condemnation of the murderers and those who support them,” Netanyahu said in a statement released to the media.
Immigration to Israel from France, where there are some 500,000 Jews, is already running relatively high: In 2014, for the first time since the founding of the state, France topped the list of countries from which immigrants moved to Israel, with about 7,000 people making the move. That was the largest single-year movement of French Jews to Israel, and some 10,000 more are expected in the course of 2015.
In January, speaking at the funerals in Jerusalem of four French Jews killed by an Islamist gunman in a Paris kosher grocery store, Netanyahu also urged French Jews to immigrate: “More than ever, today,” the prime minister said, “Israel is the Jewish homeland,” and the more Jews there are here, “the stronger we will be in our homeland.”